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Tuesday, July 22
Updated: July 23, 3:17 AM ET
Bird changed mind following senator's response

Associated Press

SEATTLE -- WNBA standout Sue Bird says she never meant to offend anyone by agreeing to accept a wager that, if she lost, would have required her to be spanked during a radio show.

The Seattle Storm's star point guard said Tuesday she never considered the potential ramifications of the bet, first reported Sunday in a column by Steve Kelley of The Seattle Times.

"I feel privileged that I can be a role model for young kids,'' Bird said. "Reading the article that was written opened my eyes and made me step back to realize what the bet might represent.''

Bird canceled the wager Monday after criticism by a state lawmaker who teaches women's studies at the University of Washington. Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles said Bird's involvement "helps feed into the images of violence against women and stereotyping.''

"When I read the senator's comments, it made me rethink things,'' Bird said. "That's not the message I want to send at all.''

The wager, made earlier this summer, hinged on whether Bird's assist-to-turnover ratio would be higher than 2-1 at the end of the season, she said.

If Bird won the bet, KJR-AM program host Mitch Levy would have bought season tickets to Storm games next year. Had she lost, Bird would have had to cry, "Harder, Daddy, harder'' during the spanking.

"I'm embarrassed,'' Bird said.

In an e-mail interview, Levy said he would be "very disappointed if Sue allowed outside influences to push her away from the fun wager all together. There has got to be an idea that both would be comfortable to her, and might benefit a Seattle local charity.''

Bird said her relationship with Levy on his radio program always has been playful, and she considered the wager a good-natured way to attract Levy and his listeners to Storm games.

"She did it in good fun,'' Storm coach Anne Donovan said. "Anybody who knows the history of her banter with that radio station understands what happened.''

Bird never expected to lose the bet, either. With 137 assists and 63 turnovers in 20 games, she was on pace to win it.

"It was always, 'Oh, I'm going to get him to buy courtside seats,''' she said.

Levy, however, insisted the bet involved a 3-1 ratio and "she was way behind.''

He said he's attended "multiple Storm games,'' enjoyed them and "raved publicly about the product on the following morning's radio show.''

Bird is one of the biggest stars in women's basketball. After a celebrated college career where she led Connecticut to NCAA titles in 2000 and 2002, she was selected by Seattle with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2002 WNBA draft.

Bird said she considers the wager closed, along with the subsequent uproar.

Donovan said the bet hasn't been a distraction for the team, which is contending for a Western Conference playoff berth.

"Silly, silly,'' said Lauren Jackson, Seattle's other All-Star. "It's been blown way out of proportion.''

Levy took aim at Kohl-Welles for her criticism.

"For her to equate a good-natured, consensual radio segment that happened to involve a spanking element to 'images of violence against women,' is not only reprehensible and political grandstanding, but frankly it is outright offensive to any victim of this horrible crime,'' he said.

On Tuesday, the Storm activated forward Alisa Burras and placed center-forward Danielle McCulley on the injured list with right shoulder tendinitis.

Burras was on the injured list for five games with a right knee injury. She is averaging 3.3 points and 1.9 rebounds in 15 games this season.

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